Tag Archives: Food

Recipe: Sausage Alfredo (Gluten-Free)

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SausageAlfredo.v1

Sausage Alfredo with gluten-free lasagna noodles. We’re going to try linguine next time.

 

Every once in a while, I get a hankering for Alfredo sauce—not the slimy kind that comes from a jar, but Mom’s can’t-get-enough homemade Alfredo. For years, the idea of making a cream-based sauce seemed daunting, right up there with homemade biscuits. But my craving overcame my fear last month, and I gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did!

The following recipe for Sausage Alfredo is actually my own creation. I compiled several different recipes, keeping the ingredients I liked and substituting the ones I didn’t. Of course, Mom gets all the credit for the Alfredo sauce.

I think you’ll agree, the result is a meal worthy of a Saturday night but easy enough for the roughest Monday.

 

Ingredients:

1 Package of mild, cooked sausage (I like turkey kielbasa.)
Capers (to taste)
Noodles (I use gluten-free linguine.)
Tomatoes (either fresh, halved cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes)
Other options: Matchstick carrots, sliced bell peppers, black olives

 

Ingredients for Alfredo sauce:

½ Cup – 1 Cup of Half-and-Half
2 Tbsp butter
Parmesan cheese (fresh, grated)
Chili powder (1 or 2 dashes; you don’t want to taste it)

 

Directions:

Boil water for the noodles.

At the same time, cut up the sausage and brown in a skillet. Once browned, remove the sausage and set aside.

To maximize flavor, make the Alfredo sauce in the same pan you browned the sausage. Simply add the ingredients together and heat while stirring, careful not to burn the sauce. Once it is heated through, add the capers and continue to heat while stirring. Then add the browned sausage and mix together. Continue to heat while stirring.

Once the noodles are cooked, add them to the sausage and sauce. Stir in Parmesan cheese to taste, and top with fresh tomatoes. Serve immediately.

I do hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it yourself and find new ways to make it, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas.

The Blessed Beggar

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I saw him as I slowed for the red light. He was a disheveled elderly man sitting cross-legged on the ground next to a red duffle bag. I didn’t bother to read his cardboard sign; it didn’t matter what it said. With my right hand, I reached for the two dollars I keep in my console for just this occasion, and with my left hand I rolled down my window. I motioned him to me, but he was distracted. He had turned to what appeared to be a small dog sitting behind his duffle bag. I was struck by the wide smile that creased across his dirty face as he tenderly scratched the neck of his best friend.

Hungry. What more do we need to know? (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Hungry. What more do we need to know? (Photo by Ashley Jones)

When he did look up, I motioned him over again. I was afraid the light would change before he could manage to unfold himself from the ground and walk over to me. I handed him my meager donation as I said, “Hey there. How are you doing today?” It’s my standard question, and I’ve received many answers, mostly involving complaints about the weather, not having enough food, or insufficient clothing. This man answered differently.

“Thank you! This is really needed. You see, I’ve got this little 7-week old puppy there to take care of….” He turned in the direction of the dog and, again, his face lit up with a smile. I sensed that joy and happiness were new emotions for this man, or at least ones he hadn’t felt in some time.

The light turned green, so I told him quickly as I drove away, “Take care. I’ll pray for you today.” I didn’t even catch his name. But as I drove past his duffle bag, I saw the cutest little blonde puppy sitting on the ground and, I swear, that puppy was smiling. I have never seen a dog more content or a man more overjoyed.

The Blessed Beggar

I drove away a stunned. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps God had placed that puppy in that man’s life to give him something to care for and to love. He now had a responsibility – not just to himself, but to another being – and he was not taking it lightly. I smiled, convinced that little puppy will be fed, even if it’s the last morsel of food that man has to his name.

The Blessed Giver

I then felt God’s presence as He opened my eyes to a bigger picture. Here, this man was taking on the responsibility of feeding another living being, even though he had very little to give. How did my two dollars compare to that man’s generosity? Was I as concerned for his wellbeing as he was for his dog’s? Perhaps God placed that man in my life to give me someone to care for and love, if only for a moment. Was he, as a fellow man, my responsibility? Was I taking that too lightly? Would I be willing to share my last bite of food with him?

I had given that man a couple dollars, enough to help him get a cheeseburger but not so much that it hurt me financially. I had intended this to be a small blessing to him, and I believe it was. I believe I did exactly what God intended me to do.

However, I received a bigger blessing that morning than he did because he reminded me how important it is for us to look beyond ourselves and take care of one another, even when we don’t have much to offer. And I was reminded of the inexplicable joy we receive when we truly give of ourselves in the name of the Lord.

God’s Word

Jesus tells us to serve Him by serving others:

Matthew 25:31-40, NAS  “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

I’ve always loved this scripture, which reminds us to serve one another as we would serve the Lord:

Hebrews 13:1-2, NAS Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Helpful Tips

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to give but didn’t have any cash on you? Don’t miss out on these opportunities! Keep a few dollars in your car or in your purse at all times, designated for donations. I like to use some of my tithe money, which is already earmarked for God’s work. For safety reasons, I keep this cash separate from my wallet so I can pull it out quickly and avoid having to expose all of my cash and credit cards. I also keep my doors locked, and I only stop during daylight hours when others are around.

I know a couple dollars doesn’t stretch very far, so I also like to keep “cracker packets” in my car. These are easy and fun to make, they’re immediately helpful, and they show the recipient that I cared enough to make them in advance. To make them, simply use a rubber band to wrap a couple dollars around a pack of peanut butter crackers. Then add an individually-wrapped hand wipe and a note of encouragement. A business card for the local food pantry, clothes closet, or shelter, can also be added. Be creative and thoughtful, but avoid anything judgmental.

Encouragement

Don’t miss out on serving God! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you guidance on who you should bless and how. No, we can’t do it all; we can’t save the whole world by ourselves. But we have an important role to play, and God has put needy people in each of our lives for a reason. Seek God’s wisdom. Then serve Him by serving others.

Healthy Living

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Healthy Living

I’ve always been rather slender. From high school to my late twenties, I took that as a license to eat whatever I wanted – hamburgers, fries, pizza – you name it, I ate it.

Like most college students, I tried to balance a day job with nights filled with homework, and years full of one change after another. It wasn’t surprising that I was tired much of the time, but I became concerned when the fatigue outweighed my energy and I began to have persistent pain in my arms and legs.

God’s Intervention

Fortunately, God gave me the strength to persevere, culminating in a graduate degree and a professional career. I then met Robby, and we were married in 2011. But just as everything was coming together on a personal level, my health continued to deteriorate. Doctors kept pushing medicine, but I wasn’t able to take any of it, and I didn’t feel it was right for me, anyway.

Once again, God intervened and led me to a chiropractor in town who specializes in nutritional care. It was there that I learned that I am…drum roll please…sensitive to wheat gluten and sugar! I know, it seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? It turned out that my health problems were a result of my body trying to process food that it simply wasn’t able to handle. All those years of eating whatever I wanted had caught up with me.

The Decision

For me, it was a no-brainer to stop eating those things that were harmful. I felt like a new person within three days of avoiding gluten, and even better when I reduced my sugar intake, eventually switching out my sweet tea to unsweet. I now have more energy and better overall health than I’ve ever had. I’ve made a lifelong decision to eat those foods that are healthful and to avoid those that harm me – a decision I reaffirm every time I take a bite.

You may be wondering how Robby has taken all of this. Well, it turned out he’s sensitive to gluten, as well, though not to the same extent as I am. Early on, he offered to eat whatever I ate, helping us to avoid preparing two different meals every night. Sometimes he reaches for a “glutinous” dessert, but he readily agrees that our new diet has benefitted his health as well as mine.

As Robby and I have shared our story with folks, we’ve been amazed how many people tell us they have experienced something similar. Now, don’t get me wrong; I don’t believe wheat is “bad.” In fact, the Bible tells us God made it (along with everything else), and the New Testament records Jesus and His disciples eating it. However, there are a lot of studies out there that indicate the wheat varieties readily available to us here in the US are not the same as they were thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago. Add to that the impact of modern pesticides, and we’ve got a food product that many of our bodies can’t process easily. 

Start Off Right

I’m telling you all of this to encourage you to be healthy, regardless of where you are in life.

If you’re healthy now, good! But it takes effort to stay that way. Many healthy people still consider themselves under some kind of stress, whether it’s starting a new semester, dealing with family issues, or staying up nights with a new baby. Stress in your life means stress in your body.

The first thing we want to do when we’re stressed is to skimp on regular, nutritious meals. We also head for the pastries and pastas because they give us a quick (and cheap) sugar rush. However, I caution you against this “just fill me up now” mentality.

Instead, plan ahead so you have good foods available to grab in a rush. I keep gluten-free Kashi or Kind bars in my purse at all times. See below for other snack suggestions.

Also, stop and think about the messages your body is sending you. Do you get sick or sluggish after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day? Does your nose run or your sinuses drain after eating? Are you able to eliminate waste easily every day?

If you have any concerns, be your own advocate! Western medical doctors aren’t trained in nutrition. (I know, it’s crazy but it’s true!) Do your own research of nutritional topics from various resources so you can formulate your own opinions and decide what kind of diet works best for you. Be sure to take into consideration your personal taste, habits, budget, and commitment. And, if one is available to you, see someone trained in nutrition for more information and support.

(Disclaimer: I am a student of the Bible, not a doctor. My testimony is real, but my medical degree is not.)

Scales don’t tell the whole story. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Scales don’t tell the whole story. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Don’t Give Up

Second, if you’re dealing with health issues now, take heart! I believe my story is proof that God does work miracles.

Yes, sometimes God heals in an instant – and don’t we all want that kind? But often He calls upon His people to help one another, to act as a doctor or a counselor for someone else. How gracious is God that He would allow us to be the method to carry out his healing!

In my case, my doctor and his partner are both wonderful Christians, and God has used them to lead me down a healthy path so I could be well. This has enabled me to live a whole life; have a full, happy marriage; and have enough energy to write this little blog to you after working all day at the office.

Keep praying for your healing, and be open to whatever method God may use to get you there. No matter how the healing comes, we give God the glory!

Food Suggestions

From time to time, I’ll post some gluten-free recipes here that you might find useful. In the meantime, here’s a short list of some of the basics Robby and I eat during the week (and we love all of them!):

  • Eggs, bacon or sausage, and a bit of fruit for breakfast
  • Stir fry on rice (we like it with turkey kielbasa)
  • Chicken and yellow rice with black beans (one of my favs!)
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (using gluten-free bread crumbs in the meatloaf)
  • Baked fish, especially wild-caught salmon
  • Beef or pork pot roast with veggies
  • Taco salad (see my blog Serving Taco Salads for the recipe)
  • Taco soup
  • Sausage and bean soup
  • Leftovers for lunch (There ain’t nothing wrong with that!)

For a morning snack, I like Greek yogurt with sunflower seeds. My 3-o’clock “gotta stay awake” snack is usually apples with cheese and gluten-free crackers or almond butter. The key is to include a protein with each meal, especially since gluten-free flours may spike the blood sugar more than wheat flour. However, when I’m on the run I’ll grab a Kind snack bar made of fruit and nuts or a Kashi bar made of popped rice and chocolate.

Resource Suggestions

Gut and Psychology Symptom introduces the GAPS diet. This was more extreme than even I needed, but it’s a great background resource and helps to explain the various functions of the body and why certain foods might trigger a negative response. By Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD of neurology and nutrition.

Fiber Menace explains the author’s theory about how products with supplemental or man-made fiber cause dysfunctions and diseases of the gut. I’ve had my gall bladder removed, so I have some experience with this myself. By Konstantin Monastyrsky.

Scripture References

1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NAS  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

James 5:16, NAS  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Serving Taco Salads (Recipe!)

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Serving Taco Salads

When you think of ministering to others, what comes to mind? Flying across the world to an impoverished nation? Running an orphanage? Being a full-time preacher? What about taco salads?

Matthew 25:34-40 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ (Jesus speaking)

What Jesus is saying here is that He wants a relationship with us, but He also wants us to take the next step and become His hands and feet in the world. When we serve others in God’s name, we are ultimately serving God Himself.

I think most of us understand this idea, but we blow it up a bit, adding our own requirements…it has to be hundreds of miles away; it has to hurt a little, or even a lot, to really count; it has to take a lot of time; etc.

But when we add those requirements to God’s word,  we are just making it harder to serve Him and serve others – and we really end up serving the god of pride.

Practical Service

Matthew 25 is such a beautiful chapter because it shows us more of God’s heart, and it gives us practical ways to share Him with others – just by seeing the needs around us and doing something about it.

When I was growing up, I usually had at least one friend who had a rough home life or didn’t have enough to eat all the time. Then I had friends who wanted to celebrate birthdays, weddings, and baby showers, but they didn’t have a lot of money for food and decorations. And then there were funerals and other sad or difficult times when we needed to gather round and support one another.

You can probably relate to these situations. And what do they all involve? Food! We all need to eat, right?

In these times, you and I get the opportunity to be the real hands and feet of Jesus. The good news is that we don’t have to be professional chefs, or spend a bunch of money, but we do need to be prepared. What would you make if a friend needed your help tomorrow?

From time to time, I’ll share some recipes with you that I’ve found helpful – easy to make and big enough to share.

This first one is…

Mom’s Famous Taco Salad

Ingredients

Taco Salad Ingredients (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Taco Salad

1 lb ground beef
Taco seasoning packet
1 can black beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
Shredded cheese
Salsa (fresh is best)
Shredded lettuce
Tortilla chips
Sour cream

Dressing (optional)

Mayonnaise (4-6 tbsp to start)
Chili powder
Cumin

Directions

Brown the ground beef, drain the extra grease, and add the taco seasoning packet. Place the prepared beef in the bottom of the serving bowl. Set aside.

Taco salad in a large serving bowl, surrounded with blue and yellow corn chips. Yummy! (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Make the dressing by mixing several dashes of chili powder and one dash of cumin in about 4-6 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Continue to season until it tastes yummy. (If you serve the taco salad with sour cream, you can skip this step if you prefer.)

Spread the dressing on top of the ground beef. Then add the remaining ingredients in layers: beans, corn, cheese, salsa, and lettuce.

Serve with plenty tortilla chips, sour cream, extra salsa, and other condiments of your choosing, such as guacamole

Most of us take food for granted, assuming our friends and neighbors have as much in the fridge as we do. Sadly, that’s probably not true. According to http://www.feedingamerica.org, in 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in “food insecure households,” including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children. Think of all the folks that would sleep better tonight, with full bellies, if we each shared a taco salad.

If this encourages you, and you do make a taco salad for someone you care about, I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment and let me know how you used this as an opportunity to serve and be a blessing to someone else.